Florida deputy, 23, dies in accidental shooting after best friend, roommate ‘jokingly’ fires loaded gun at him

A 23-year-old Florida deputy was killed early Saturday morning during an “off-duty incident,” according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Initial reports did not include any details surrounding the death of Austin Walsh, who had been off-duty at the time. But an update from the sheriff’s office revealed Walsh had been killed after one of his friends “jokingly” aimed a gun at him and pulled the trigger.

A single round was fired. It struck Walsh and killed him.

On Sunday the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office provided an update which revealed Walsh had been killed by his friend and roommate, Deputy Andrew Lawson.

“He and Austin had taken a break from playing an online game with a number of their friends and were just kind of standing around talking. Lawson was holding a handgun, which he believed he had unloaded and at one point in their conversation, Lawson, thinking that the gun was unloaded, jokingly pointed the gun in Austin’s direction and pulled the trigger,” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said during a press conference.

Immediately after Lawson fired the single round he called 911 and then called the Palm Bay police.

When officers arrived they found Walsh with a single gunshot wound. He was deceased.


Charged with manslaughter

Lawson turned himself into jail on Sunday. He has since been charged with manslaughter.

Ivey called the incident an “extremely dumb and avoidable accident.”

He added that it “not only took the life of an amazing young man and deputy, but it has also forever changed the life of another good young man who made an extremely poor and reckless decision.”

Walsh had been a member of BCSO since he was a teenager. When he was 18 years old he joined the force, and prior to that he served as a member of the Explorers program.

“If there is nothing else, I pray there is a lesson learned from this tragedy.”

My heart breaks for both Austin and Andrew. My hope is that others will learn from this horrific incident.

Please join me in praying for bother men and their loved ones during this extremely difficult time.